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Senator Mulroe discusses Wednesday’s budget override vote

mulroe-71515SPRINGFIELD – Illinois State Police, the Illinois Department of Aging, the Illinois Department of Public Health and other vital state personnel would continue to be funded not just for this month, but for the entire year under votes Senator John Mulroe (D-Chicago) cast at the Capitol on Wednesday.

“Protecting the public is obviously a top priority for Illinois. Today, I voted to make sure State Police, the Illinois National Guard, our elderly and other emergency service agencies have the resources they need to do their crucial jobs,” said Mulroe.

State lawmakers approved a state budget earlier this year. But Gov. Bruce Rauner chose to reject the entire budget, with the exception of the K-12 education budget. Rather than use his authority to make changes to parts he disagreed with, he unilaterally rejected the entire budget. The result is a budget deadlock at the Capitol that threatens to shut down services and leave key personnel unpaid.

Mulroe joined his Senate colleagues in sending a one-month, emergency budget to the governor’s desk in an effort to keep key the State Police and other emergency personnel and agencies open and functioning. He then went a step further and voted for a proposal to maintain that funding for the entire year.

Stadelman disappointed property tax relief proposal fails in Senate

stadelman-proptaxSPRINGFIELD – Senate Bill 316, a proposal for a two-year freeze on property taxes failed in the Illinois Senate today. State Senator Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford) supported the legislation.

“Meaningful property tax relief is one of the most important issues to the Rockford area. Families and seniors who have lived in their homes their entire lives are being forced out of their neighborhoods because of skyrocketing taxes. It’s truly unfortunate my colleagues couldn’t support this legislation on behalf of middle-class families,” said Stadelman.

Because of the current school funding formula, a significant portion of property tax dollars go to local schools. Senate Bill 316 also included a provision to end the current formula. Many studies show it is the most inequitable in the country and disproportionately hurts communities without vast local resources. Under the current formula, Rockford area schools don’t receive their fair share of funding. The state would have two years to create a new formula.

“Illinois needs meaningful property tax relief and a more equitable solution to funding public schools. I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to fix these problems plaguing working families,” said Stadelman.

Senate passes one-month emergency services budget, votes to pay state workers

steans-tempbudgetSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago 7th) issued the following statement on the temporary budget the Senate passed today to fund essential health and safety functions and pay state workers:

This one-month budget ensures that the health and safety of Illinois residents are not put at risk while the governor and the General Assembly continue their negotiations. It also authorizes paying state workers at current levels. They are still on the job, providing vital services, and they deserve full compensation.

Today’s action does not set us on a path to unsustainable spending. With the exception of salaries, it would fund only 13 of the nearly 100 state agencies. I urge the governor to sign the emergency measure we’ve sent to his desk, because it will give us space to work together to develop a complete budget that responsibly balances spending cuts and new revenue to keep Illinois moving forward.

Gypsum: From coal plants to farm fields

Sullivan-on-floorSPRINGFIELD – A proposal to let farmers use a recycled coal byproduct as a fertilizer was signed into law late last week.

State Senator John Sullivan (D-Rushville) sponsored the new law that allows farmers to use synthetic gypsum on their fields.

“This benefits farmers, the coal industry and the environment. Farmers can use synthetic gypsum for fertilizer to cut down on erosion and conserve water. This law capitalizes on the growing clean-coal industry by finding a new environmentally friendly use for a byproduct,” Sullivan said.

Gypsum is a naturally occurring mineral most commonly mined and used for drywall. Synthetic gypsum is chemically identical to natural gypsum and is recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency as a safe, effective fertilizer.

The process of removing harmful emissions from coal exhaust creates synthetic gypsum.

Natural and synthetic gypsum are both sources of sulfur and have been shown to increase yields as well as reduce erosion and improve water efficiency. It serves as an alternative liming material that can provide nutrients to crops, dissolving in rain water without the need for additional additives.

The new law, Senate Bill 543, creates guidelines for applying gypsum including setting a maximum per-acre limit.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture will make a regulatory distinction classifying synthetic gypsum as either a fertilizer or an agricultural amendment.

Governor Rauner signed the proposal on Friday, and it took effect immediately.

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